“She is driving me crazy!”
“He is such a handful!”
“She is such a brat!”
“He is trouble!”
“She is wearing me out.”
“She is out of control.”
The list goes on and on because we have all heard these things said about children. The problem with these statements is these words describe the child, not the action the child is displaying.
“Her behavior is driving me crazy.”
“He is acting like such a handful.”
“She is acting like a brat.”
“He is acting like trouble.”
“Her behavior is wearing me out.”
“She is acting out of control.”
By simply changing the verb, the words are no longer describing the child, rather the action the child is displaying. We are not saying the child is bad but the action the child is showing in that moment is the problem.
Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue…” Unintentionally people are causing death by the words they are saying. Not a physical death, but an emotional death. Words are very hard to forget.
We have probably all heard the cute little saying when we were kids, “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” I’m not sure who thought that to be true but clearly, they never had a bad word spoken to them. Words do hurt and are extremely hard to forget. In fact, I still remember being in 6th grade, standing in line and a boy in class called me mayonnaise legs, which made the whole class laugh. I am embarrassed to admit but even now, I rarely wear shorts or skirts because of a stupid, immature statement made 30 years ago.
I am so thankful Michael Fletcher at Manna Church in Fayetteville, NC, preached on this topic many, many years ago before we had our son. We have tried to be intentional with our words throughout his life. I never want the dialogue in his head to be negative because of a verb. When he was two, we called it the terrific twos because it was terrific he was learning and experiencing so much at that age and we didn’t want to give him a pass to misbehave because of his age.
I would encourage you today to pause and change the verb when speaking. Focus on the action and remind the child they are good but their behavior at the moment is not. By making this one simple change, we will speak life even in the midst of trying times.
“Even a child makes himself known by his acts, by whether his conduct is pure and upright.” Proverbs 20:11